#TurksandCaicos, May 03, 2018 – Providenciales –
By now many Turks and Caicos Islanders would have heard that two of our premier athletes, Mr. Devante Gardiner and Mr. Kevarno Handfield, have lost their athletic scholarships from Saint Augustine University and cut from their athletics team for choosing to represent our Beautiful by Nature Turks and Caicos Islands in the recent Commonwealth Games in Australia. I, along with many others, are calling on the Minister with responsibility for Sports, the Minister of Education, and the Minister of Finance to fix this situation and make these young men whole again, as a decision to give these two gentlemen a scholarship could help to repair the damage that has been done and overt long term consequences to their futures.
If further convincing is needed, by all means continue reading. Given the fact that both gentlemen earned a scholarship for athletics in part or in full is a testament to their value and skill as no University is going to give an athletic scholarship unless you are top notch or have the promise to be top notch. Additionally, I understand it was at the urging of key individuals in the TCI athletics community that the gentlemen choose Country over School and clearly did not understand the risk that they were taking. For us to now abandon them would be sending a clear message as to our priorities for our youth, their development and the way we support those that work so hard to represent us. These two gentlemen made up half of the 4X400 relay team that made history for the TCI at those same Commonwealth games by qualifying for a final event along with Ifeanyi Otuonye who also qualified in Long Jump Finals.
Remember how excited we were to see the pictures of the TCI making the 4X400 relay finals?? Remember that now that these young men need your help. In the case of Devante who has at least two more years of eligibility, we might be looking at our own next Usain Bolt or Delano Williams in the making with the times he’s making and what continued training and competition will produce in years to come. In the case of Kevarno, he is one year away from completing his Bachelor’s degree in Business and Sports Management. I am sure he has a place in the department of Sports. These young Turks and Caicos Islanders need their country’s support.
As the saying goes “Money Ain’t a Thing”… How do I know? In the recent Post Cabinet Statement, Cabinet approved a proposal for an amnesty on penalties on outstanding arrears of hotel and tourism tax payable under the Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism (Taxation) Ordinance. Cabinet also approved the write-off of both Business License and Scholarship Contribution Arrears. Between both those actions, I am pretty sure the value is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars if not over a million dollars. If we can take actions to benefit those above, then we can act to benefit our Youth who have sacrificed their scholarships by putting TCI first and are indeed the future of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
I call on the principals above to put their heads together and support these young gentleman on continuing their sports and academic success.